Chairman’s a tough job even at Squires Gate

Stuart Hopwood
Stuart Hopwood
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Stuart Hopwood is a realistic man. He has to be.

Football at the top level hogs the headlines so much it’s easy to forget that at the grass roots level – real football as some might put it – it’s a whole different ball game.

Ahead of the new season at Squires Gate FC, Hopwood, the chairman, is putting up the nets when we speak.

“Hang on a minute,” I can hear him saying. “Make sure you attach that bit there or else it will look a right dog’s dinner”.

When we do speak he tells me a realistic aim for the North West Counties Premier Division club – who kicks off their campaign on Saturday with a trip to Stockport Sports – is to finish mid-table.

That would be a decent outcome after a turbulent campaign last year when the club had three managers and 
finished second bottom.

“It was difficult last year and first and foremost I’d like a bit more stability this time around,” said Hopwood.

“I never put any pressure on my managers and I won’t do that with Dave McCann (who took over from Gary Hargreaves towards the end of last season) but it would be nice if we could finish top half and I think that is achievable.

“The problem is that we don’t have money to throw around. The players get 
expenses, that’s about it – their bus fare home. What we can offer them is a superb pitch, excellent facilities and I think we’re a very friendly club.

“What happens at some other clubs is they offer more money which obviously allows them to get better quality players. If they aren’t doing the business by Christmas they tend to pull the money and then it sort of levels out in the league for the rest of the season – that’s the way it tends to be.”

New boss McCann hopes he can improve on what happened last season, when results were poor throughout.

McCann’s day job is as a professional coach at Myerscough College.

“We’re hoping to get some sort of unofficial link-up going and bring in a few players from there,” said Hopwood.

“In fact he has already got a couple here and that should help us.

“He is a very good coach who knows what he is doing and he also knows the club because he used to be assistant to Russ McKenna, who was our manager at the start of last season (and is returning as a player this season).”

He added: “When Russ left the manager’s position by mutual consent, Dave went too because his wife was expecting a baby.

“When we replaced our manger again towards the end of the season, Dave’s wife had had the baby and he was ready to get back into football again.

“It was an easy decision for me to appoint him and I’m very hopeful he can help us have a good season.”